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Ellison blasts HP 'idiots' for Hurd's exit

Tennis buddy serves up

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Larry Ellison has ridden to Mark Hurd's defense and unleashed on HP's board for dropping its CEO following an investigation for sexual harassment.

In a rare display of top-earner solidarity, Ellison slammed the board as "idiots" that failed to act in the best interests of HP's employees, shareholders, and partners by forcing Hurd to resign.

"The HP board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago," Ellison said in an email to the New York Times.

"The HP board admits that it fully investigated the sexual harassment claims against Mark and found them to be utterly false."

Over the weekend, the woman who brought the sexual harassment claim said she was "surprised" as well as "saddened" by Hurd's forced departure.

Jodie Fisher, an ex-soft porn actress and former HP contractor paid by HP to mingle with major customers at Hurd events, said she hadn't intended for Hurd to get chopped.

Fisher said she'd not had an affair or intimate sexual relationship with Hurd but had resolved her claim with executive privately, without litigation. She has refused to provide further details.

Hurd resigned from his $15m-a-year job on Friday after HP announced the sexual harassment investigation. HP said its investigation cleared Hurd of the sexual harassment claims but had turned up irregularities in his expense reporting.

Hurd is reported to have made claims of between $1,000 to $20,000 over two years for items such as meals and travel that were not considered business-related.

In his email to the NYT Ellison, who pulls in $56m a year, claimed HP's board were split on disclosing the investigation and then took a unanimous decision to come clean.

The NYT notes that Ellison and Hurd are close buddies, with Hurd regularly dropping into Ellison's Silicon-Valley home to play rounds of tennis. HP is also an Oracle partner - it supplied the hardware for the early version of Ellison's beloved Exadata Server.

Earlier this year, Ellison stood by Oracle president Charles Phillips after revelations about his eight-year affair with YaVaughnie Wilkins. The affair emerged when Wilkins paid for billboards in US cities and a web site picturing the couple and featuring messages between them. ®

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